The Darkness Within (2009)

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Overall Rating 68%
Overall Rating
Ranked #13,043
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Review by Bill Wolford
Added: April 30, 2011
I'd like to get this problem of mine out of the way first thing. I have a problem With Shot on Video (SOV) films. I could go into tons of reasons, but I'll stick to just a few major ones. I'm a child of the 70's, so I grew up watching movies and then video releases shot on film, no matter how cheap they were. And there's something about good film stock that can make even the most horrendous film more endearing by using it. Then in the 80's and 90's no-budget films started using video cameras to shoot their stuff. I thought it was horrible. Not to mention the first SOV movie I ever saw (Goblin) still tops the list as the worst movie I've ever seen in my life. Most SOV film makers try to exceed their budgets and end up with horrendous looking effects, and now with CGI its even worse. Cheap movies with unintentional laughs are not my idea of fun. My idea of fun with an SOV movie is seeing a film shot by someone who knows their budget is tight and goes for a psychological thriller, or a character driven horror, as they know too many cheap FX will just make the movie look even cheaper. Having said all of this, I'd like to say up front that The Darkness Within was a pleasure to watch, and for periods during the movie I even forgot I was watching an SOV.

The story starts off with a couple, Chad and Ashley (Jimmy Scanlon and Michele Romano) moving in to a new apartment. Newly engaged (we see him propose in the back of the moving truck), they seem to be a happy couple, although the apartment is smaller than the one they left. We find out early on that Chad has a drinking problem and tries to keep it hidden from his girlfriend. While going to the bathroom late one night, Chad sees someone looking into the window, and going outside, finds no one there. The next day he confronts his neighbor, Mr. Reed (Ken Flott) about the incident. Reed says he doesn't know what Chad is talking about, but you can see the wheels spinning in his mind.

Chad starts to become more paranoid about the peeping tom problem and the rising stress about Ashley having a guy she cheated with Chad on starting to call her again. Chad Sets up cameras around the house in front of every window to try to capture the peeping tom on film, and deals with Ashley's past cheating by drinking even more.

After Chad has recorded evidence of the peeping tom on video, he takes it to the local police department, only to be called back later in the day. The investigator is not pleased with Chad for wasting his time, and as Chad starts to argue, the investigator has him sit and watch the 90 minutes of film that only shows the front door window.......no peeping tom. Chad begins to think that the investigator has erased the incriminating evidence on purpose, and starts to spiral further into paranoia, bordering on madness.

This madness is confirmed when he finds that Ashley has left him over his drinking problem, and her phone is still there, and he picks it up when the guy she cheated on him with calls. Strange that we find out that not only is Ashley not with Chad now, but she was never with him in the first place, and was never his girlfriend. And in fact they never dated at all. How is this possible?????

That's when the wheels come off for Chad completely, and to reveal anymore would be ruining this excellent story that had me guessing up until the end. Strong writing, editing, and even a few chuckles sprinkled throughout the film makes this character driven thriller one you'll remember for days after you've watched it. that being said, the film drags a bit around the hour mark, not because of any padding, but I think now it was to prepare for the final act of the film. The girl that plays Ashley is pretty hot, but I got frustrated when there was a shower scene with no boobage to be had. Also, during the first 20 minutes of the film Chad calls his girlfriend by the nickname of "Ash" about 10-12 times and gets damn annoying until it suddenly stops. There was slight overacting on all accounts, but as the film goes on either they get better, or you're too wrapped up in the film to notice

As far as the DVD itself goes, I only found two small problems. I had to keep adjusting the volume during the movie to hear what was being said, and when the audio was too loud it distorted in some places. The DVD also comes with a Trailer, teaser trailer, gag reel, music video, 2 other film trailers from Portalla and a Portalla Short film. It seems as though it uses the same actors in all of his films, so if you find you like this one, you might just want to go pick up the others as well.

I give this movie a 10/10. It ranks in my top 10 SOV films. Granted, I haven't seen a lot of them, but top 10 in anything is pretty good in my book.
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